It still rained in the morning of 5th April. My heart sank. The temp is 5°C but I must continue riding. I rode carefully down the steep winding and slippery road. There were many times that I felt that my tires skided and I wondered if its because my tires were very new. Because of that, I had to be even more careful. It was a very cold ride and I was shivering all the way. I entered Spain with no hassle. It was a relief when the sign boards’re familiar as I could understand the meaning. It should be a nice beautiful ride with twisties and I saw a very green river, greener than Neretva River in Mostar, but it was so cold so I didn’t stop for pics. Its not fun riding in cold and wet especially when yr bike doesn’t have a heated grip.
I had to pay tolls 4 times to enter Barcelona via the tunnels. I should have taken another road, but it was cold and I want to arrive ASAP. The total amount was almost EUR20 for a distance of 170km (Spain part). After riding for 206kms, I reached Barcelona and had some difficulties to find my host’s house. I had to ask a local to help me to call her. I stayed only 2 nights here as I had been to BCN before. I managed to do some sightseeing at Sagrada Familia, Plaza Catalunya, Sant Pau and Ramblas during my stay. Sagrada Familia was so impressive that I couldn’t help staring at it for a long time, wondering how Antonio Gaudi made this amazing cathedral. The only thing spoiling the view was the skylift and scaffolding which surrounded it.
My worst nightmare happened on the day I left BCN. In the morning, I couldn’t start my bike. There was no sound at all after I had pressed the starter. I asked my host to push the bike from behind and the engine managed to come alive. I rode from BCN heading south. The wind was unbelievably strong after I passed Tarragona. It was similar to the wind on Ruta 40. It was so stressful because unlike the quiteness at Ruta 40, there were lots of vehicles on the road here. It was worse because there were too many high flyovers I had to ride on. It was scary when my small bike was being pushed to the other side of the road. Then when I switched off the engine to put gas, the same thing happened. I couldn’t start my bike, and I had to ask someone to push it from behind. Fortunately, the engine can be started. I was getting worried and wondering what the problem was, but I told myself to relax and I will find a mechanic once I arrive at my destination.
My gps also wanted to test my patience today. After I had repaired it in Lima, today, the screen froze again after it instructed me to enter Valencia. I wasted 1 hour trying to find the way to exit the city. However, I did manage to see some beautiful castle and historical buildings here. I passed lots of orange groves too.
Since today’s ride was long, I had to put gas again for the 2nd time. This time, I was not lucky anymore. The bike couldn’t be started even after being pushed, and the gas station was the one and only building on the highway. GD had never failed me before, and I was wondering what could be the cause. I was getting worried about failure to start the bike, meaning that I had to find a transportation to send it to the nearest workshop, and the cost wouldn’t be cheap. The girl at the gas station counter didn’t want to help me, but I was fortunate that there was a Bulgarian guy (who was also a biker, but in his car), who was there at that time. He helped to take me to his mechanic at a very small village near L’Olleria, about 5kms from there. However, I had to wait for 1.30 hours for the mechanic to settle his job before he could check my bike which I left at the gas station, It was getting dark, and I’m dead tired and so hungry. Finally, the mechanic was able to follow us to my awaiting bike. After checking, he managed to sort out the problem. There were some wiring shorts at the starter, which was most probably due to rain, snow and the cold ride few days ago. The problem was settled within few minutes. I was so relieved. I thanked Cristoph and the kind mechanic who didn’t want to take any money from me.
It was already dark by then, and I continued riding even though I had bad vision at night. There were some winds on the way and it was freezing as temp dropped significantly. it was so cold. At times like this, how I wished my bike had a heated grip. The road was winding up and down. It felt forever to ride the last 100km. Finally, after 12.30 hours since I left BCN and riding approximately 600km, I arrived safely at Alicante and only managed to settle at my host’s house (after sending the bike to a secured garage) at 11pm. It’s a long day, but I’m glad that everything was ok in the end.
It had been 7 months I’m on the road by now. In terms of people, I’m truly blessed that I met so many lovely people and made many new friends. But in terms of riding, to be frank, I can’t recall even one day that everything was super easy. Honestly, everytime I hit the road, there will be challenges. It’s just a matter of huge or little challenges. Sometimes, I was tested at the beginning, sometimes in the middle, sometimes at the end of the day and sometimes, throughout the journey. Sometimes, when I got good weather, the road was bad. When the road was good, the traffic was bad. When the view was nice, the wind was crazy. When everything else was ok, my gps was not. Or my maps couldn’t detect my location, or I couldn’t find my accommodation, or I was lost…bla bla bla…To sum it all, everytime, there will definitely be challenges. Nothing was 100% easy peasy.
I thought that after I’m done with South America, Europe will be a bliss. How wrong I was. It was stormy when I left London. It was raining all the way when I entered France. It was snowing and very cold in Andorra. And in Spain? It’s strong wind again. The temp was 8°C as I rolled my wheels to exit Alicante. It was raining and so cold. The wind was strong. It was so stressful as the side wind pushed my bike on the wet slippery road. I felt as if the tires had no traction at all as it skided everytime being pushed. I had to face this for 4 scary hours!! After that, even though the sun came out, I had a strong head wind which froze me in and out for the remaining journey. My neck and hands were so painful. However, the view was very beautiful as soon as I entered Andalucia province. Beautiful Sierra Nevada greeted me from far away. It reminded me of Patagonia in Argentina.
I was very cold and exhausted by the time I reached Granada after riding 400kms via A7 – A92. As I’m getting tired and stressed riding on the pebble stone very narrow alleys in the old city of Granada, searching for a place to stay which suited my budget, a nice guy appeared out of nowhere to help me. Lucas brought me to the tourist info office and later guided me to a cosy hostel where I got a private room for EUR15. I stayed for 2 nights here and managed to visit the historical city and La Alhambra.
La Alhambra was indeed a must visit while in Granada. I was lucky that my host in BCN told me to purchase La Alhambra ticket online beforehand as I didn’t know that the daily number of visitors to this palace was limited. The ticket cost me EUR15.40. I collected my ticket at a bookstore in the city and walked to the very impressive place. The Alhambra is Granada’s and Europe’s love letter to Moorish culture, a place where fountains trickle, leaves rustle, and ancient spirits seemed to mysteriously linger. Part palace, part fort, part World Heritage site, part lesson in medieval architecture, the Alhambra will definitely blow your mind away.
My next destination in Spain was Cordoba. I took N432 and the ride along the winding rolling hills was awesome. I do feel some side and headwind along the way. At times, I was being surprised by wind gusts which blew from the wind tunnels created by the range of hills and valleys. It was a cloudy and cold ride again, but I was entertained by a beautiful red poppy flowers and olive fields view.
I stayed 2 nights in Cordoba and visited many historical places such as the old city, Templo Romano, Mezquita, the cathedral, Torre Callahora, Puente Romano, Alcazar, and others.
I continued towards Seville via A92. It’s only 144kms but took me 2.15 hours to reach due to rain, storms, strong wind and chill. In Sevilla, I stayed with an advrider, Mahsa Homayounfar. I was very lucky that Festival de Avril was being held when I was there. Mahsa took me to the festival and I managed to watch the colourful feria. This annual fair was held for a week in the month of April. During this fair, the locals from all walks of life made themselves look the best. The women dressed up beautifully with flowers in their hair, and the men looked smart and handsome with their coat and tie. They gathered and danced in the street. There were horse carriages too.
I also managed to visit the old city, the famous cathedral and beautiful Plaza de Espanya.